Ten Interesting Facts…The Great Depression

Ten Interesting Facts

Have you ever wondered what caused the Great Depression? What was Black Tuesday? Learn the answers to these questions and other interesting facts with this article.


Black Tuesday

    1. On October 29, 1929, the stock market lost $14 billion. During the week of Black Tuesday, the stock market lost $30 billion. This would be equivalent to $377,587,032,770.41 today.


Dorothea Lange’s photo of Florence Thompson with several of her children has become a moving symbol of the Great Depression.

In the photo, Florence Thompson was age 32 years old. She had seven children. Florence was a migrant pea picker in California. This photo was taken in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California.

Dorothea Lange’s photo of Florence Thompson with several of her children has become a moving symbol of the Great Depression.

Unemployment Rate

Average Rate of Unemployment during the Great Depression

1929: 3.2%
1930: 8.9%
1931: 16.3%
1932: 24.1%
1933: 24.9%
1934: 21.7%
1935: 20.1%
1936: 16.9%
1937: 14.3%
1938: 19.0%
1939: 17.2%


The board game Monopoly became a big success when it first went on the market in 1935. Players could pretend to be rich. This was a nice break from the reality of the depression.


As money became scarce, gangsters began to surface. Some infamous gangsters of the 1930’s included:

    • John Dillinger
    • “Baby Face” Nelson
    • Machine Gun Kelly
    • Pretty Boy Floyd
    • Ma Barker and her Boys
    • Bonnie and Clyde


Going to the movies was a favorite pastime during the Great Depression.

Approximately 60 to 80 million Americans went to the movies weekly. Hit movies included:

  • Tom Sawyer (1930)
  • Frankenstein (1931)
  • King Kong (1933)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)


The Wizard of Oz


Average Wages during the 1930s

Occupation Income
Industries $1388/year
Government Workers $1517/year
Public School Teacher $1455/year
Building Trades $1233/year
Health Services Worker $933/year
Doctor $3172/year

Cutting Costs

Because buttons were too expensive, Americans began using zippers during the Great Depression.

Roosevelt’s New Deal

Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “New Deal for the American People” when he became President in 1933. He established a number of federal organizations such as TVA, NRA, CCC, and WPA to get people back to work.

Price of Goods

Product 1920s Prices 1930s Prices 1940s Prices 1950s Prices
Butter (Pound) .70 .46 .42 .74
Eggs (Dozen) .78 .52 .45 .67
Rice (Pound) .17 .09 .08 .17
Washing Machine (Electrical) 85.00 74.50 48.00 65.00
Bicycle 43.00 32.00 29.00 45.00


Information Sources

50 Interest Facts about the Great Depression

The Great Depression Statistics

The Depression Facts

Facts and Figures” Income and Prices 1900-1999

Photo Credits

Mother and Children

Migrant Mother

The Wizard of Oz


Learn facts about the Great Depression. This is a great non-fiction supplement to several novels including Out of the Dust, ECHO, and Esperanza Rising.

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1 comment

    • Audry on June 1, 2016 at 11:26 am

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